What initially began as a charity event to raise money to restore Louis XIV's Palace of Versailles has since been dubbed the "Battle of Versailles" amongst fashion historians, in which the best of French haute couture went up against the new-age American sportswear designers of 1973. Crazy, yes--but also the premise to a can't-look-away documentary. Versailles '73: American Runway Revolution
, directed by Deborah Riley Draper, centers on this iconic fashion show as the singular most important event that helped American fashion be seen on the same level as French haute couture.
Through interviews with everyone from models that walked in the Versailles event to Richard Avedon's muse, China Machado, the film tells an accurate and detailed account--without ever seeming too textbook-y and boring. Hell, it even includes juicy details on Halston's meltdown midway though rehearsals, to his explosive tiff with Oscar de la Renta.
The documentary effectively sets the stage, introducing each of the key designers, models, and choreographers of the time. But the best part of the flick is definitely the recapping of the event itself-- with Princess Grace of Monaco arriving with her crown on, Jane Birkin appearing on stage in her underwear, and Josephine Baker performing, the show exceeded the expectations of the audience in the palace, as well as those watching the documentary.
Check it out for yourself, now available on iTunes and Video on Demand